The ‘Race for Water’ solar vessel hosts Bellona-led discussions on taking the Tesla revolution to the seas

The Race for Water Solar Vessel moored on the Seine, Paris, COP 21
The Race for Water Solar Vessel moored on the Seine, Paris, COP 21
Keith Whiriskey, Bellona Europa

Publish date: December 10, 2015

PARIS - On 8 December 2015, the Race for Water solar vessel provided the perfect venue for fruitful discussions on the transition towards a zero-emissions maritime sector and symbolically reflected the key message communicated by the keynote speakers of the Bellona-hosted event: namely that the technology is already available and in use. With the support of Hurtigruten and PBES, Bellona’s high-level seminar ‘Green out of the Blue - how clean disruption may take place on the seas’ allowed for discussions on existing technologies; new business models of transport of people and goods; how the emergence of disruptive change in the global transport sector may be fostered, and the role of regulators vs. market forces in the transition.

International shipping and aviation together make up about 8% of global emissions. Ships alone are the primary smog contributors, and ocean-going vessels now produce more of SO2 than all of the world’s cars, trucks and busses altogether. Inclusion of the maritime sector in the future climate deal is therefore essential in helping us to limit global temperature rise below 2°C and tackling high levels of dangerous air pollution. Bellona’s event, taking place in Paris as global leaders enter their second week of negotiations towards a global climate deal, aimed to bring attention to the importance of reducing ever growing maritime emissions and of incorporating the sector’s significance within the new agreement text.

The event featured keynote speeches by a number of experts in the maritime field, including Bellona’s Founder and President, Frederic Hauge; CEO of Arctic cruise line Hurtigruten, Daniel Skjeldam; Brent Perry, the CEO of PBES, a global leader in energy storage for industrial applications; and Transport & Environment’s Director Jos Dings.

The enormous economic and climate benefits for the shipping sector

Their presentations provided a rich coverage of the numerous batteries and hybrid solutions available today as well as the business opportunities these offer for the shipping industries. Speakers were in agreement over the fact that the efficient storage of energy, either as a main energy source, or as an intermediate buffering and peak-shaving, would create large economical savings and reduced emissions for numerous applications in both coastal-, inland waterways and international shipping.

Hybrid propulsion can reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 15-20%, and operating costs by 75%” shared Brent Perry in his presentation, pointing to the importance of rendering these clean technologies profitable for the operators. Fortunately, studies show that energy storage costs have been reduced by 50% over the past 5 years with this trend likely to continue into the future. In addition to their environmental and economic benefits, Perry highlighted the important safety advantages of employing energy storage systems in ships.

The technology is there, but what does it take for full-scale roll out?

In his presentation, Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of Arctic cruise line Hurtigruten, confirmed the availability of promising technological solutions, but highlighted the importance of governmental support in the form of a favorable regulatory environment to foster the transition to zero-emissions maritime transport. “While this support cannot be indefinite, it is crucial in supporting the deployment of battery and hybrid solutions in the shipping industry during the initial stages” explained Skjeldam, with reference to the package of fiscal and practical incentives the Norwegian government granted to electric vehicles (EVs). Fostering the transition to green shipping will require an initial governmental support to boost confidence in new technologies and render them profitable.